Why the clocks going back on Sunday 27 October 2013 can put you at risk

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clocks

On Sunday 27 October the clocks will go back, propelling us into long, dark nights, which seem to start at roughly midday and last until about 10am. But while lots of people loathe the drawing in of the winter evenings, few are aware of just how much danger we face in the dark. There are two risks that will hit as soon as the clocks change - and they could both cost us dear.

So how can you protect yourself?


Burglary

The first risk is the fact that dark evenings raise the number of burglaries - and increase the value of the belongings that burglars can carry away under the cover of darkness.

According to Halifax Home Insurance, the average cost of a claim for winter burglary was £1,746 last year - 14% more than the average cost of a summer burglary claim. Last year the insurer paid out almost £13 million in winter burglary claims, a 21% rise compared to the summer months.

Senior claims manager Martyn Foulds says: "The cover of darkness makes life easier for petty thieves looking for an easy target, so we are reminding homeowners that a few simple steps can go a long way to avoiding the stress and inconvenience a burglary brings."

They say it's vital to keep doors and windows locked, even when you are at home. They suggest installing security lights, which alert you to people approaching the house, and gravel driveways to make it possible to hear them coming too.

Have a British standard approved burglar alarm installed, and always set it when leaving your home unoccupied (and also at night). One which has a direct link to the police is a good idea

High walls, spiky railings and prickly bushes around a property can make it more difficult to break in, and also harder to get away if burglars are disturbed. It's also important to keep tools and ladders that can be used to break in to the home locked away.

Driving

The second major risk is on the road. Insurer RSA says that collision rates increase during twilight hours after the clocks change.

Adrian Brown, RSA UK & Western Europe Chief Executive, said: "We see an increase in crashes at this time of the year, particularly in the early evening. It's often when driving during twilight hours that people first notice problems with their vision."

Twilight, the period between sunset and dusk, is one of the most difficult times to drive, as your eyes are continually adjusting to the growing darkness. Commonly reported vision problems include struggling to read road signs, difficulty with glare and generally feeling tired.

It's vital to get your eyes tested regularly to keep you safe. Brown says: "Just as an MOT and service is important for keeping your car safe, regular eye tests are vital to ensure your eyes are roadworthy too. My advice to all drivers is to follow medical advice and have your eyes examined every couple of years."

Simply updating your glasses or contact lenses can enhance your vision for driving in all conditions.